You don't have to be a victim of the dreaded runner's potbelly

Some runners can use a couple of extra pounds
Runners are prone to potbellies and we're not talking about stoves. Happily for us, exercise physiologist Anthony Spataro, Ph.D., from the New Mexico Department of Health, and Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., R.D., professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Medical School, have offered several belly-busting tips for the afflicted.

Using this information, we provide a troubleshooting guide for "runner's potbelly."

Problem: Most people simply don't think about holding in their stomachs; from neglect, abdominal muscles eventually weaken.

Solution: Don't be a slouch. Work on your posture by sitting up straight or standing tall with your stomach muscles held firm, your butt tucked in and your back straight.

Problem: Too-tight hamstrings eventually cause the lower back to tighten, which in turn may increase the curve in the lower spine.

Solution: Stretch the 'strings. And make sure to do it after all of your workouts. Hold your hamstring stretches for 15 to 30 seconds.

Problem: Runners often don't do strength work, and muscle tone and strength are important for maintaining good posture.

Solution: Get stronger. Start a strength-training program today, emphasizing the upper-body muscles of the stomach, back, chest and shoulders.

Problem: Abdominal distention can occur when you habitually consume too many calories just before going to bed. This causes the oblique muscles of the abdomen to relax, resulting in a potbelly.

Solution: Eat earlier. Try not to eat a big meal close to bedtime. You'll be more likely to burn off what you eat if you're active for several hours afterward.

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